This article explores the relationship of CGC 9.6 in the bronze age relative to what the 9.8s are commanding. In a way, this is similar to the investment framework for investing in 2nd appearances.
People want 2nd appearances when first appearances get out of reach. Similarly, collectors might settle for 9.6 when 9.8s are out of reach. The key point is to determine at what price points do collectors consider 9.8s to be out of reach.
This article was inspired by this comment from Don
“I know the 9.8 is closing in on 3k soon,but I’m looking at the 9.6 (550.00) and lower grades that IMO are bargains right now for a mega franchise which is Star Wars…even with a huge probable print run…not a crazy amount on census”
What affects the 9.8 vs 9.6 pricing gap?
Every seasoned collector will know that there is always a gap between 9.8 and 9.6 prices. However, how big should be the gap is not universally agreed. In fact, some gaps are temporary because the market adjustment for 9.6 might be slower than 9.8, resulting in some undervalued buying opportunities.
My hypothesis on what causes the gaps:
- Availability: If a particular 9.8 issue is harder to come by than a 9.6, it is natural to expect a bigger gap, relative to their peers. In such cases, I would not say the 9.6 is undervalued.
- Market Lag: As mentioned, another common reason for the gap is simply the 9.6 lagging in price reaction relative to their 9.8s. This will correct slowly over time but presents a good buying opportunity. The intention of this article is to help us identify books in this category.
For the table below, I focus on 1977 books so that I can help Don with this question. You can repeat this exercise for any years that you want to investigate.
|Percentage of 9.8/9.6 Prices|
(Percentage Census 9.6/9.8)
|Star Wars #1||$2,400|
|Marvel Spotlight #32||$2,100|
|2001 Space Odyssey #8||$700|
Bench marking analysis
Doing the bench marking analysis has revealed some interesting observations. The most important being the relationship between the pricing gap of 9.8 and 9.6 vs their census gap.
Observation #1: Pricing gap vs census gap
With the exception of Marvel Spotlight #32, there seems to be a consistent relationship between pricing gap and census gap.
Specifically, the pricing gap is almost double that of the census gap. In other words, if a 9.6 has 100% more copies on the census than 9.8, the 9.8 will have a price that is 200% more than the 9.6.
We see this relationship manifesting across a wide range of prices of census availability in the different books. This result is really surprising to me as I haven’t notice this pattern before.
The only exception is Marvel Spotlight #32. This means that either the 9.6 is overvalued or the 9.8 will have about 100% more growth left.
Observation #2: The ceiling on 9.6 is pretty low
Across the different comics, you can see that a 1977 9.6 hits the ceiling at around $600-$700. The only book I know that has a higher price than this ceiling is Iron Fist #14 9.6. Compared to the thousands of dollars that a 9.8 is commanding, this seems low.
This info is useful if you are thinking of investing in a late bronze age 9.6. With the ceiling being in the $600-$700 range, you can then work backwards to know how much potential gain can be had from a 9.6 investment.
The key question is whether CGC 9.6 as an investment class can increase over time. I believe it can if the 9.8s cross a certain threshold of affordability. I believe that threshold to be in the above 5000 digits with census gap around the 200-300% market.
Observation #3: Look for comics with high census gap
Census gap refers to the difference between the 9.8 and 9.6. In our table, the book with the highest gap is X-Men #107. Due to large differences, you can see how high the prices of 9.8 have spiked relative to 9.6.
Another example of this is X-Men #120, published in 1979. This book also has a pretty huge census gap between 9.8 and 9.6, resulting in a high 9.8 price relative to the 9.6.
Unfortunately, this info is not easy to obtain as you need to manually scan through all the census info to get that piece of valuable nugget.
The relationship between 9.8 and 9.6 is an interesting one. Currently, not much in depth study has been done which I think is a missed opportunity.
Just as how early bronze age CGC 8.5 and 8.0 is now a $1k book, it is pretty possible that some late bronze age CGC 9.6 can become 4 digit books within the next few years.